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They’ve flown the coop!

Your baby has finished high school and is about to go off into the big wide world as an adult. Even if they’re not moving out of home, you’re probably getting a bit anxious for them – it’s a big step for you too. There will be growth, change and probably a few challenges along the way.

While they will always be your child, and you will always think of them like that it’s probably best you start treating of them as an adult. They will have adult problems and life changes they may want to discuss with you so seeing them as an adult will help you counsel them. This is why we are purposefully calling your child the “newly-minted adult” in this section.

We have compiled some tips for parents and carers. Every student (aka “newly-minted adult”) and every family is different. Do what works best for your family and be prepared for some trial and error along the way.

Financial Expectations

Discuss your financial expectations with your newly-minted adult ahead of time. Discuss what they are expected to pay for and what you will provide monetary support for. Keep in mind there are always going to be unexpected costs they could need help with.

If they aren’t already all over the money side of things, some things you could help them with might be meal planning, showing them how expensive groceries are, how to pay a bill, explaining the difference between a credit and debit card. These things will all play a part of their lives at uni.

Academic Expectations

Try not to hassle your newly-minted adult about why they aren’t receiving high distinctions for every assignment or studying enough.

Instead, discuss expectations before they start uni and let them know you will support their. While you want them to succeed you also need them to know they can come to you if they are finding their study too challenging.

Communication Expectations

It’s important for parents and their newly-minted adult to be on the same page when it comes to keeping in touch. Discuss how often you expect them to call or email and be prepared to be flexible about when and how often they should contact you.

Set a minimum standard of contact for your newly-minted adult to touch base and let you know they are OK. For some families this will be a few times a week or once a week and for others it might be once a month. You will know best what suits your family situation, but don’t expect a call every day once your newly-minted adult settles into uni life.

They are Adults

  • Do not pack for them. Encourage them to make a list, but don’t pack – this is their job, not yours!
  • Make sure your newly-minted adult is prepared to do domestic duties such as washing and cleaning. A few lessons might be needed before they head off to uni.
  • Talk to your newly-minted adult about sex and substance abuse before they go to uni. Let them know they need to be responsible for their actions but that you are also available to talk if they have a problem or feel they have done something wrong.
  • They will make mistakes – let them. We all learn from mistakes, it’s an important part of growing up.
  • Build an adult relationship with your newly-minted adult by talking openly with them about issues and not judging their choices. Be a mentor rather than someone who tries to solve all their problems for them.

Practical Love

Bets are your newly-minted adult will still want to feel like they’re included in home life. They will miss your lasagne or the way you fold their clothes. They will ring to ask questions about how to wash some item of clothing or how to tie a tie. There are practical ways to help you newly-minted adult feel connected to home, here are some:

  • Send a care package. This can include their favourite lollies or biscuits, along with some new undies or socks (or some small item they have mentioned they need). This little though is guaranteed to get you a call.
  • Send a Woolworths or Coles voucher. It doesn’t have to be for a large dollar amount, but it might allow them to buy shampoo and a small treat for themselves.
  • Takeaway treats. When you visit, or they are about to leave from visiting home be sure to give them some food for the trip or a dinner during the week. It could be cooked lasagne, or a frozen curry you saved for them.

The Emotional Rollercoaster

You may have no trouble letting go of your newly-minted adult, or you may find it a grieving process. Everyone is different. Our advice is:

  • Try to keep your emotions under control. Tell them you will miss them but don’t beg them to come home every weekend.
  • Don’t forget about the impact the departure can have on the whole family. Talk to your other children, partner and other family members about the changes.
  • Celebrate this time of adventure and show your newly-minted adult you are happy for their newfound independence and opportunity to stand on their own two feet.
  • Homesickness is normal and your newly-minted adult can find help and support from counsellors, tutors, mentors, family members or friends. Encourage your child to seek professional help if the adjustment takes more than a few months or they feel like they have no one to talk to.
  • Your newly-minted adult is going to eat differently, sleep differently and no doubt go through quite a few changes when they move out of home. It’s all part of growing up and becoming an independent adult. Don’t tell them they’re doing it all wrong (even if you think they are). If you are concerned about their lifestyle talk to them as an adult and offer advice and support.

This advice is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation, needs or goals. You should consider whether the advice is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.